Orlando Trip With Teens
The First Moves
A year before I had my son, my ex and I were able to take our 3 oldest niece and nephews on vacation with us. At the time, they were at that awkward stage in life where things were transitioning and we all know how that is. Having a boyfriend/girlfriend, getting ready for high school, becoming their own independent selves. It was definitely a change for them. My ex and I had planned on taking a trip to Disney World and Universal Studios in Orlando, FL for some time. We decided that we should take the kids with us, let them explore, and show them that you should always keep your inner childhood alive. It wasn't the first time for them to visit Orlando, but we definitely wanted their vacation a kick off to their school year. After we received the OK from their parents, the planning began.
Keeping teenagers entertained for a complete 7-day vacation and a total 20-hour car ride was difficult. There were many things that we did as a group that helped keep them above the water and kept on their toes. Here are a few tips and tricks that I took in consideration to amp up their vacation.
The Special Envelope
I decided to make it as exciting as possible when it came to teenagers. We wanted to stay on a schedule where we have a little fun but also remember that we had limited timing. I made up this envelope kit for the kids. The envelope kit consisted of:
- A 7-day itinerary (Day by day with different options, they had chosen before of what they wanted to do by the days and theme parks)
- Their Disney tickets & their Universal tickets.
- A Disney Lanyard to keep their Disney Tickets in and collect pins with.
- A special letter entitled to their trip.
- Spending allowances
- Maps to each park that they had marked off before themselves. (Each person highlighted different rides and events that illuminated which was important to them.)
These envelopes were given to each person once we sat in the car. They could either open it up then or they could open it when we got to the resort.
Walt Disney World
The Planning Period
When you decide to plan a trip to Disney or Universal, you want to keep the young adults as excited as you are. Even though you have to plan in advanced there are different methods to keep the spirit alive during the planning period.
Watching Disney Movies or Universal Movies
We are huge Disney and Universal movie fans. We have the entire series of The Fast & The Furious movies and Harry Potter. We watched Harry Potter movies while planning our itinerary to help us get the feel of where we wanted to go first at US/ IOA.
This was one of my favorite things to do. I printed out maps of the theme parks. On the maps are lists of different rides with height requirements, thrill rides, shows, etc. Each person colored with a different highlighter which entitled to the most important to the least important. With this, we were able to pick a place at where we wanted to stop at for lunch and find all the stops and shops that we wanted to look at before we got to the parks. These were then folded up and placed in each of their special envelopes.
Not only is counting down fun for children but you can make it as fun and adventurous for young adults as well . As a countdown reminder for each person, I simply sent a text to everyone every once a week. No need to get bombarded with texts every day or an everyday countdown (even though I counted down the days myself secretly.) In each weekly text, I sent was a little gesture reminder of what we have to look forward to. Ex; The beach, going to Harry Potter World, getting Butterbeer, getting on rides, being at the Magic Kingdom. These little reminders helped them stay excited and looking forward to the week.
I was very skeptical about whether we should stay on the site of Disney World or Universal Studios. Both have really great perks about staying on site. If you stay at any WDW Resorts you are automatically given a free parking pass to any theme park at Disney. You also get to endure the EMH (Extra Magic Hours). The EMH is either an extra hour or an hour later for any WDW Guest that are staying at the resort. US on the other hand, everything is within walking distance of the resorts. There are a few resorts that are off site which allows you also a parking pass to US/IOA. Universal Studios also has something like EMH at WDW, but it's an extra hour on certain days.
Considering our options and how much time we would be actually spending at the parks, we decided that it would be best if we stayed off site. I did a lot of research into what would be best for us cost efficient wise. I spent days on end to get the best deal possible. With a month before our departure date, I had finally booked with Magical Memories Resort in Kissimmee, FL.
The Resort was perfect for the kids. It was a gated community with great amenities. The Condo was fully stocked with kitchenware, bathroom essentials, a washer and dryer, and pool towels. We had a condo with a 3 bedroom, 2 bath. We were about 3 minutes from WDW and about 15 - 20 minutes from Universal Studios.Staying off site was very helpful to us cost efficiently. We bought about a week worth of groceries and filled up our refrigerator. This allowed us to save some money on going out to eat. It was mainly breakfast that we ate at the condo and a dinner or 2 but this still saved us some money from eating at the parks and it gave us some quality time with each other.
Bringing Favorite Movies
The condo was equipped with a decent DVD Player and lucky for us we brought some of our favorite DVDs. We would watch either a Harry Potter movie or one of our favorite Disney movies we could agree on to get us hyped up for the next day. We would talk about the rides and which ones were on our list, shows that we wanted to see because they resembled parts of the movie. This really helped bring some light to everyone and never sought out that the trip would be boring to them.
Vlogging might have been the best part out of the entire trip for my niece and nephews. Each day someone would have the camera in hand (Usually it was my niece) and take a moment to capture how everyone's day went. We each explained which was our favorite part of the day and what made it our favorite. They each took turns recording while at the theme parks getting to tour everything and catching a dashcam view on the rides (only on smaller rides) .This not only made things fun for them along the way but also made some really great memories for everyone.
Making it be apart of everyone
Our main goal and focus were to have everyone endure in the vacation. We gave us enough time during our vacation to take a break from the chaotic world and set ourselves aside to live on the beach for a few hours. We had 2 break days in our Itinerary. 2 of those days consisted of shopping for the girls and some play time for the boys. This gave a chance for us to bond on our gender side some and hear out from a teen's perspective to an adult's perspective. This made everyone feel like they were a part of the vacation and no one was ever feeling left out.
Best Trip Ever
This was by far one of the best trips ever. Not only did we gain memories, but we built a great bond between everyone. It was relaxing on everyone's end and everyone got to seek some fun in different ways. This opened a lot of doors for all 3 of my niece and nephews. They felt like they could be open with us and feel more comfortable having been able to spend more time with each other. We made amazing memories that will last us a lifetime. This trip reminded us that you should always remember your inner childhood and be able to forget and realize that it's not always serious growing up. I hope these tips and tricks helped out for you as much as they did for us. Remember that it's not all about the planning, it's about making the memories.